It really was their fault – and eventually they admitted it – but it took an angry tweet to get them to notice.
The connection for my second flight was not that tight – one hour and 10 minutes. I left the office feeling pretty good about the travel home. As we began to board flight number one, I noticed that the customer service rep was having some problems with the ticket scanner. Boarding early has its privileges, but I wondered why it was taking so long for everyone else to board. 25 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes… I began to look at my watch wondering about my second flight. Then the customer service rep took the plane microphone and began to ask for people to ring their flight-attendant bell when she called out their names. It seems that more than 20 people had checked in at the gate, but they could not verify if they were actually on the plane.
One hour and 30 minutes late, the plane finally pulled away from the gate. Needless to say, I missed my second flight – got assigned to another flight 3 hours later, and to top it off my 6’3” frame was packed into a middle seat.
As an experienced flyer, I can understand that things break, and with just a little bit of proactive customer service, I would not be writing this article. But that was not the case. The airline has the data and with the right CRM system they could have easily sent me an email upon my arrival or the next day that said, “Hey, we messed up! And we are sorry.” They could have even thrown in 500 frequent flyer miles to make the midnight arrival a little less painful. But that did not happen.
So being the social guy that I am, I tweeted about my poor experience to the main Delta Twitter account and got no response! I had recently read an article about how one of their competitors had embraced social media, so the next day I tweeted on the Delta page again, with a link to the American Airlines success story. Within 30 minutes I received a response. From that point on, the level of service was wonderful. The agent asked me to send a DM (direct message) via Twitter with my reservation number. Within 10 minutes she responded back via DM apologizing for the situation and offering me 3000 SkyMiles as restitution.
As a customer service consultant, I am always looking for a story and always analyzing possible improvement. I think my experience on Delta illustrates four larger developments in customer service:
- Social Media has become a very effective channel for customer service and has given the customer much more power. Public view of a problem gives the situation a certain amount of urgency and the customer much more control.
- Delta could have avoided the need for my public tweet by developing proactive customer service that takes responsibility for bad experiences that are really their fault.
- My initial tweet had several responses from followers about their similar problems with Delta. People really are listening and the brand really is affected via social media.
- If your company does not have a proactive way to view posts and deal with unhappy customers, you are losing business right now!
My story ends with the following tweet:
Now, imagine the impact a positive follow-up post can have on your customers.
To illustrate this principle, we’re giving free Delta Airlines drink tickets to the first 100 people to follow us and share this blog post on Twitter with the hashtag #DeltaDrinks, mentioning @Bluewolf and @bobfurniss